COGEP: Celebrating 20 year of helping business control management costs

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Intimate interview with Michel Fournier, President of Cogep Inc

by Tobey Hayden

"We see the recession as an opportunity-since we're in the business of helping companies reduce costs and maintain better control of their strategic assets!" It is through these optimistic eyes that Michel Fournier, President of Cogep, sees the uncertain economic climate. What follows is an intimate interview in which one of Canada's finest businessmen goes on to outline how today's financial challenges highlight the need for cost-cutting business solutions.

Boasting a client roster that includes Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), Saputo, and Montreal Casino, it is obvious that Cogep, a Canadian company that designs world-class computerized maintenance management software, delivers invaluable solutions that address the needs of managers and entrepreneurs.

"We've worked from the ground up to create a powerful, user-friendly software, thanks to our staff's expertise and our open environment, which enables the pooling of knowledge from a team of engineers, technicians, IT specialists and managers from all industries," explains Fournier. "Our solutions seek to optimize and increase the reliability of information about stock levels, production equipment, transportation, and IT infrastructure, as well as the productivity of human resources and the management of our clients' inventories."

Guide Ti, Cogep's computerized maintenance management software, permits the rapid circulation of information to ensure accurate managerial decisions can be made in real time. "Guide Ti helps not only those in charge of maintenance, but also financial managers, to make decisions quickly," says Fournier, "thanks to performance indicators built into the software."

The birth of Cogep

These days, corporate leaders understand that the need for superior management and maintenance of their strategic assets is critical to the future success of their business, particularly in times of economic crisis. They need look no further than Guide Ti, which has proven to be an indispensable tool in controlling costs and optimizing operations and maintenance management whilst mitigating the challenges of the current global economy.

Michel Fournier reflects on the early days when he first began to develop the maintenance management software known today as Guide Ti. "23 years ago, I was employed in the IT division of an engineering firm called ADS. My job was to develop a complete software solution that incorporated all of the features and functionalities of three different software products (transportation, property management, and manufacturing) into one cohesive system."

Three years later, after ADS partnered with Calculus (a National Bank subsidiary), Cogep was born. In 1995, Michel Fournier and a partner bought Calculus' shares and expanded Cogep from 12 to 35 employees, landing major accounts such as Agropur, Natrel, Ministry of Transport, the Olympic Stadium (RIO), and Canadian Forces. Six years after that, Fournier and his partner made the strategic decision to purchase the remaining shares from ADS to become 100% owners of Cogep Inc.

GuideTi, the jewel in Cogep's crown

In 2003, after four million dollars of private investment in software development, Cogep released their flagship software Guide Ti. "At the time, our focus was on delivering a powerful, user-friendly software solution that was superior to anything else out there," Fournier recalls. Upon Guide Ti's release, Cogep became a Microsoft partner, winning animpact award a mere three years later; this accolade was in recognition of the company's quality of work in integrating its maintenance software with Microsoft's ERP solutions whilst managing a team of several partners to implement a computerized maintenance system for a major customer of the Western Canadian mining industry.

Seeking opportunity in the face of adversity

The year 2000 saw the bursting of the Internet bubble, and the cost of updating systems in preparation for the new millennium contributed to a reduction in software sales throughout North America. Opting to implement a strategy that would ensure the retention and loyalty of their clients, Cogep offered its superior consulting services at a reduced price to ensure that more companies would be exposed to Guide Ti (and their employees would become more familiar with the software). "It was a more intimate approach to our clients, enabling us to listen to and understand their needs; this interaction certainly influenced our approach to product development for the future," Fournier says wistfully, then laughs. "I still remember the time we had to cut our own salaries for several months to be able to continue to pay and retain our employees!"

What the future will bring

When Michel Fournier first witnessed the birth of Cogep 20 years ago, he had never dreamed that his software solutions would address the unique needs of so many people-in so many businesses-from so many industries. Today, Michel Fournier is confident that the power of Guide Ti will aid in the lean management and strategic planning of a wide range of companies from diverse sectors. "Proof of Guide Ti's world class-ability is always presenting itself: Seattle Crane Aerospace analyzed more than 20 software maintenance solutions in North America before approaching Cogep with their business; our sales in the last three years have grown by over 300% and our customer base is ever-growing. Our forward vision and strategic plan for the coming years is to further expand our market share in the North American markets. In 2009, Cogep continues to grow-feeling no negative impact from the currentglobal economic strains-because we offer exactly what companies are looking for right now: world-class solutions to control costs and to optimize efficiency."

A brief history of Cogep

1989: The creation of Cogep through an equal-partnership deal between ADS and Calculus (a subsidiary of National Bank).

1995: The purchase of shares of Calculus (50%) by Michel Fournier and partner.

2001: The purchase of remaining shares of Cogep from ADS (50%) by Michel Fournier and partner.

2003: The release of Guide Ti; Cogep becomes a partner of Microsoft.

2006: Cogep wins a Canadian Microsoft Impact Award for its quality of work to integrate its software with the Microsoft's ERP solutions.

2007: Michel Fournier becomes the majority shareholder of Cogep.

Tobey, could you re-upload your photo...seems to be missing.